This study presents a comparison of numerical model results and laboratory experiments of wave propagation in a coastal area with a harbor navigation channel. The results of wave models SWASH, SWAN and HARES are compared with physical model results in order to investigate the performance of these models. It turns out that HARES, a 2D parallel spectral wave model based on the Mild-Slope Equation with non-linear damping, yields the most accurate results and a computational time that is only a small fraction of the time needed by SWASH. It appears that the large computational effort and resolution required by full 3D time-dependent wave models like SWASH may prevent them from exploiting their full potential accuracy, even though they contain all relevant physics for wave propagation. Furthermore, the phase-resolving wave modeling approach used by both HARES and SWASH yields more accurate results than the phase-averaged approach used by SWAN when channel reflection and diffraction effects are involved, which can be important in the vicinity of harbor navigation channels. HARES combines the advantages of a stationary and two-dimensional calculation (enabling sufficient model resolution at low cost) with a phase-resolving modeling approach. This underlines the ongoing applicability of mild-slope wave models like HARES in practice and makes them a preferable tool for the design of harbor layouts.